Multinational team to announce probe results today
By Jung Sung-ki, Kang Shin-who
Characters and numbers in North Korean fonts were found on fragments of what is believed to be a propeller blade from a torpedo that sank a South Korean frigate, a senior Defense Ministry official told The Korea Times, Wednesday.
"They were not Chinese characters or a serial number, but it was obvious that the lettering was North Korean," the official said on condition of anonymity regarding findings from a multinational investigation into the cause of the sinking of the ROK Navy's patrol boat Cheonan near the West Sea border with North Korea on March 26.
The statement followed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan's remarks essentially confirming Pyongyang's involvement.
In a speech at a meeting hosted by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea at the Shilla Hotel in Seoul, Yu said the cause of the sinking has been clarified.
His statement came the day before the multinational team, including experts from the United States, Britain, Sweden and Australia, is scheduled to disclose the results of its probe into the sinking.
The official said the torpedo in question was powered by two sets of propellers that rotate in opposite directions.
He added that investigators conducted a computerized simulation and reached the conclusion that a 250kg, mid-sized sonar-tracking torpedo exploded underneath the gas turbine room of the 1,200-ton vessel.
The gas turbine has been found on the seabed and will be hoisted out of the water, according to the officials.
Traces of explosives from the wreckage were also found to be similar to those from a North Korean torpedo found in the West Sea seven years ago, they said.
Experts from the four countries as well as South Korea shared the view that the torpedo strike sank the frigate, resulting in the deaths of 46 sailors in the worst naval disaster in peacetime in South Korea.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade began briefing foreign ambassadors here on the results of the investigation as part of efforts to broaden support from the international community.
The government plans to refer the Cheonan case to the U.N. Security Council.
On Tuesday, the ministry invited ambassadors from China, Russia and Japan, participants in the six-party talks to end North Korea's nuclear programs, to brief them on the results and discuss follow-up measures, a ministry spokesman said.
The ministry gave briefings Wednesday to diplomats from the European Union, G-20 member states and countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he said.
어뢰 파편에서 한글 확인
군 당국은 수요일 천안함 침몰 현장에서 발견된 어뢰 파편에 새겨진 한글과 시리얼 번호를 확인했다고 밝혔다.
유명환 외교통상부 장관은 천안함 침몰 관련 북한의 개입이 명백하다고 말했다.
유 장관은 서울 신라호텔에서 열린 주한EU상공회의소 주최 오찬 강연에서 천안함 침몰원인이 밝혀졌다고 말했다.
이 같은 유 장관의 발언은 미국, 영국, 스웨덴, 호주의 합동조사단의 서해 접경 지역에서 발생한 초계함 침몰규명조사가 발표된 지 하루 전 나왔다.